There are many different kinds of Ants found in the United States. All Ants have three body parts, three sets of legs and a round abdomen. They range in color from yellow to reddish-brown to black and also range in size, up to ½ inch long.
Ants live in colonies that can swell to hundreds or thousands of members. While the colonies typically start outside, many species will invade households, attracted by sweets, starches, greases, and plant and animal materials. Heavy rainfall, prolonged droughts, or seasonal weather changes can drive Ants indoors. You can see them crawling in lines along baseboards, cupboards and countertops, scouting for food.
Ants can be a nuisance both indoors and outdoors by contaminating food, but depending on the species, they may also inflict painful stings (link Fire Ants), damage wood structures (link Carpenter Ants) and harm plants.
Controlling Ants may take a combination of approaches including chemical barriers around the outside of the home, indoor sprays, mound treatments and baits. Some Ants cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with certain garden insect pests, such as aphids, scales and whiteflies, which secrete a sugary substance known as honeydew. These Ants feed on the honeydew and in return protect the pests from beneficial insects.
Ants are found throughout the United States. Locations may vary by species.
Similar or Related Pests
See Carpenter Ants and Fire Ants.